In 2005, when I was covering the implosion of the Eagles' Super Bowl team, directed by veteran demolition expert Terrell Owens, one of my biggest frustrations was that it seemed Jeremiah Trotter didn't quite get what T.O. was about.
Owens spent the spring and summer trying to sow discord and rancor, because he was unhappy with the contract he had signed a year earlier. He was sent home from training camp after admonishing offensive coordinator Brad Childress not to speak to him until spoken to. He carried on a bizarre, onesided war with quarterback Donovan McNabb, who had done nothing to Owens, other than failing to win the Super Bowl.
Finally, in November, when Owens granted an interview in which he faulted the Eagles for not recognizing his 100th career touchdown during the game and agreed with the interviewer's observation that the Eagles would be undefeated if Brett Favre were their QB, Eagles coach Andy Reid realized this mess had gone on long enough and suspended T.O.
Trot was a leader in the locker room, and the unquestioned leader of the forces trying to get Owens restored to the active roster. He didn't defend the things T.O. had done, but he seemed to think McNabb ought to just ignore the persistent undermining of his authority and leadership, because, hey, T.O. was a dominant player -- probably THE most dominant player physically I've ever covered, in any sport -- and the Eagles needed him to get back to the Super Bowl.
Football is a team game, though, the Daily News has learned, and you really don't win the Super Bowl with a superstar wideout trying to tear down your quarterback. Reid later told me one of his biggest regrets was that he let that situation fester too long, tolerated too much. I eventually concluded McNabb was never viewed quite the same way again by his teammates.
Today, I think maybe Trot finally understands what the big deal was, why you don't clasp a viper to your bosom, or whatever that passage in the bible says. Owens, interviewed for the February edition of GQ, was asked to revisit the past, in search of things he might have done differently. T.O. allowed that some of the stuff that happened in Philadelphia was unfortunate. Then, as is his wont, Owens indulged in a self-justifying flight of fancy.
Maybe you recall that the crisis caused by the "undefeated-with-Favre" interview was nearly defused, when Owens was dispatched to the NovaCare auditorium to read an apology dicatated by the Eagles. That effort failed when Owens chose to read only part of the apology, leaving out the part that dealt with McNabb. Reporters found this out when he left the entire text lying in his locker stall. Comcast filmed it there, and reported on the full contents.
Shockingly, this is not the official T.O. version of events. In GQ, Owens reimagined the scenario, and cast Trotter in a pivotal role. (Oh, and in another twist, the GQ interviewer somehow thought the apology had to do with T.O.'s assertion that he "wasn't the one who got tired in the Super Bowl." That happened the previous spring, and had nothing to do with the suspension.)
“Well, I probably should have done...,” he begins, rubbing his hand along the contours of his massive shaved dome. Then he stops himself. “No. No. Listen, I was in the locker room before the press conference, and my team captain, Jeremiah Trotter, read through that apology they wrote for me. He got to the bottom part, the part where it had the stuff about Donovan, and he did this.” Owens snatches a piece of paper from the table and rips off the bottom three inches. “This is the team leader we’re talking about; he told me not to do it.”
Except, no, the apology was not torn, when reporters saw it afterward in the locker stall.
But creating an alternative reality, where the leader of the defense prevailed upon him not to apologize to the quarterback, that is very T.O. That is the essence of T.O.
Judging from his tweet to Owens last night after this news broke, I think maybe Trot gets that now:
"yo man y u lying to GQ Mag I never told u that call me ASAP!!!!!"
Dunno if that call has happened. If it has, I would guess that Owens told Trotter he didn't really say those things, the interviewer manipulated his words, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Because nothing is ever T.O.'s fault, really.